Facing Off with M.S.

Three time Stanley Cup Champion Bryan Bickell seemed to have it all.  A 10 year professional hockey career doing what he loved.  Respect from his teammates who knew he’d always put team ahead of self, popularity on and off the ice, and a loving family at home.

In 2015, he starting noticing something was a little off.  Indescribable at first, but not right. He began feeling dizzy and trouble with his balance.  At first it seemed to be vertigo or a related inner-ear disorder.  These symptoms make it virtually impossible to play hockey, much less at the world’s highest level, and he spent a good portion of the following season in the minor leagues trying to overcome this condition and get his game back on track.  He then started experiencing recurring numbness in his arms and legs.

In November, 2016, Bryan found out that these effects were being caused by Multiple Sclerosis. He took time away from hockey, to work out a game plan to fight the M.S.  Along the way he set a goal for himself to return to hockey, for at least one last time.  In  February, 2017 he began playing again in the minors, and returned to the NHL on April 3.  He played the final 4 games of the season with the Carolina Hurricanes, scoring an overtime shootout goal in his final game.  He was also voted, by fellow players, to receive the Steve Chaisson award, for Determination and Dedication to the game.

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Carolina Hurricanes’ General Manager Ron Francis said the following about Bryan Bickell, a comment that drives to the heart of Independent Living:  “To be told that’s what you’re dealing with, knowing it affects your livelihood and what you love to do, it’s not easy in so many different aspects.  Everybody can be a captain when the seas are calm, but I think when adversity hits and you have to deal with things that are out of your control, you learn a lot more about a person. The way Bryan has handled this as a person from day one to the present is nothing short of remarkable.”

Bryan retired after that last game to continue his battle against M.S. and spend time with his family.

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Accessible Travel

Accessible Public Transportation is a legal right any time of the year. However, awareness of these rights by both travelers and carriers is especially heightened during the Holiday season.  This is due to the increased volume of travelers as well as the sometimes hazardous nature of winter travel and unavoidable delays.

There are two laws that directly apply to protecting individuals with a disability in transit. The American’s with Disabilities Act  (ADA) covers public transportation, such as city buses and rail carries in Title II; as well as private carriers such as taxis, private buses and hotel shuttles in Title III.   The Air Carrier Access Act provides these protections in commercial airline settings.

Accessible Kitchens

Quiz:  Which room do you associate with Thanksgiving?

Answer:  The Kitchen…. the site of the great symphony of smells from the Turkey, Pies, Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Stuffing and a host of other delicacies that draw you in like a cartoon character being lifted off its feet…

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This a great time of year to remember the importance of universal design to the Kitchen, so that appliances, cabinets and food can be utilized by anyone wanting to enjoy the culinary parts of the holiday season!

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There are limitless ways to design and organize the essential elments of a kitchen, as well as using assisitive technology to make this happen.

Click Here to learn more about designing an accessible kitchen.

Inclusive Playgrounds

What kid doesn’t love a good playground?   Climbing around on equipment that looks like a fort… seeing how high you can go on the swings… testing yourself on the balance beam or monkey bars…

As great as playgrounds are, they are also one of the least accessible places you could conjure up.  Curbs, wood chips, sand and crushed rubber are just some of the physical barriers you encounter before even getting to the equipment, which is even less accessible.  This effectively eliminates opportunities for many kids with disabilities to play there, and for many parents with a disability to participate in their child’s enjoyment of it.

Mentock Park

So the real question isn’t what kid doesn’t love a good playground.  It is can all kids and parents alike have access to that fun?  Fortunately, there is a new trend in playground design known as Inclusive Playgrounds.  It incorporates elements of universal design that is typically seen in newer commercial and residential construction and applies those principles to recreation.

An inclusive playground is currently in the works at Mentock Park in Cody, Wyoming.

Click Here to learn more about the effort, advocacy and partnerships that have led to the Mentock Park playground project.

Wyoming’s State Plan for Independent Living

Every three years, Wyoming’s State Independent Living Council (SILC) develops a plan known as the State Plan for Independent Living (SPIL). The SPIL’s primary purpose is to establish goals and objectives to increase opportunities for individuals with a disability across Wyoming. These goals and objectives are developed based on information gathered through the Centers for Independent Living’s field work and internal data, input from the community through surveys and focus groups, and input from the members of the SILC Board.

To view the new SPIL: Click Here to view the document.

The State Independent Living Council is composed of individuals from across Wyoming who wish to work to increase opportunities for, and remover barriers to, individuals with a disability. This council is always interested in adding new members who are passionate about these issues. For more information on the SILC Board or to offer input on the SPIL, please use the “Contact Us” feature on the menu bar.